Brethren and sistren, we have made it to a sad yet joyful time in our faith walk. Wednesday was the season finale of Salt Lake City and the end of our time together standing in judgment over these women. It has been an honor to serve as your vicar, your confessor, and your explainer of sin. But the day of judgment has finally come and only one woman can walk away with the ultimate holiness ranking and the everlasting favor of Holy Father.
Who will it be? Certainly not Mary who, even though she made an appearance in this episode and will be around for the reunion, was disqualified last week due to a lack of leaving her closet. Will it be the woman I tried to root for in the beginning, Jen Shah? Ehh. Let’s get into the final rankings!
Jen has spent the entire season in a fit of rage the source of which I don’t believe we will ever find. Is she mad at Heather? Is she mad at Whitner? Is she mad at her husband? Is she mad that there are too many white people in Utah? I don’t know and I don’t think Jen knows either. Not only did Jen dwell in her unfounded rage, which is not the way a good Muslim sister should behave, she also refused to take accountability or apologize for it. She used the phrase “I apologize” several times in this week’s episode but just like her rage source, she didn’t know why she was saying what she was saying. For this and her excessive drinking, Jen does not get to be the princess of holiness.
Meredith is a sneaky one. Throughout the season and the various holiness rankings, Meredith has kept her scores high by adhering to Jewish law for the most part, while creating a pathway for her son to climb the ladder to fame—all good things. But this week, despite donning a crystal face mask, the true sinful nature of Meredith’s heart could not hide from me, a stranger who has never met her. Meredith’s sin is not that she breaks the rules of her chosen religion, it’s her pride. The two key themes for Meredith’s inaugural season were disengaging and secrecy. At first, I respected the secrecy around her marriage because no one wants their crumbling relationship on display. But then it occurred to me that Meredith wasn’t hiding from scrutiny, she was protecting her overall image, ensuring the safety of her ego. Pride is one of the seven deadly sins, as we all know from the film Se7en and, I guess, the Bible. Meredith oozes pride which is why she chooses to disengage from anything negative, her pride won’t allow her to open to any situation that could potentially make her look bad. Even if Meredith wasn’t a prideful woman I could not in good consciousness let her win anything after she wore that stupid mask to Heather’s party.
Heather did a lot of growing this season and then chose to throw it all away in the final episode by making up with Jen. This is not a sin, of course, it’s just poor decision-making. Forgiveness is well and good but forgiving doesn’t mean agreeing to be someone’s doormat. Heather doesn’t have a huge overarching sin like Meredith but it’s the smaller things that brought her down in the ranking system. The drinking, the very weird pursuit of random men at parties, the departure from regularly attending church, all the very normal things that Mormons simply cannot do. Sins aside, Heather feels like a solid staple character that can hold down this region of the franchise for years to come.
I am shocked that I have anything nice to say about Mrs. Barlowe but when you really think about it, she was incredibly reasonable for almost every single episode after the “thumbs up” issue. She also understood the importance of forgiveness without the need to placate the bad habits of her friends. She spoke positively about the LDS church multiple times, has never been divorced, and is teaching her children that perfection is attainable if they continue to work at it. What prevented Lisa from winning the crown is that she has an overarching sin that permeates her daily life: an obsession with building her empire. Now you’re probably thinking, how could it possibly be sinful to focus on one’s business? For that, I must chastise you for even asking. The good book sayeth, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” In pursuit of the coins, Lisa started a business that runs counter to her faith; she ignores her family once a year to chase that Sundance bag; and she is now pimping out her son to start a men’s grooming line, passing on the poisonous love of money to him.
Whitney was sinning left and fucking right this season and personally, I didn’t think she would earn the crown, as she constantly talked about the flaws of the Mormon church. But once again, I borrow wisdom from the good book. Faith without works is dead and while Whitney may not have shown faith in Holy Father, she had immense faith in her earthly father, and she put that faith into action. She was there for him whether she was happy about it or not when he needed her most, and even when it came down to that love when he wanted to leave sober living, Whitney committed. In Islam (not Whitney’s faith but stay with me) we believe that all of our deeds will be weighed on scales on judgment day and we can only hope that the good outweighs the bad. Whitney’s small sins simply do not weigh as heavy as the good deed of staying by her father’s side, despite being brought up in a faith that does not see value in rehabilitating the lost.